Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Fangs of the Molossus – ‘S/T’

Despite the wide-ranging and varied palette of doom that has been emerging from Italy since the early eighties the Italian doom scene, if anything, has collectively proven itself to be forward thinking and, at the very least, fascinating. Italian doom, generally, has the ability to tap into the occult or conjure mystical, otherworldly atmospheres with a singular authenticity that is often unrivalled. Relative newcomers Fangs of the Molossus—peddlers of heavy, psychedelic doom—comfortably fit in amongst the diverse pantheon of Italian doom acts. Within that pantheon the band is able to carve out a niche of their own based around heft and the horrific. Though the band’s self-titled debut was originally recorded and self-released in 2013 the album has finally received the vinyl treatment courtesy of Italian Doom Metal Records.

Fangs of the Molossus easily fall on the heavier side of the spectrum, particularly when compared to Other Italian acts, and are perhaps only eclipsed in both overall weight and tripped-out textures by fellow countrymen Ufommamut. While the two bands seem to be following a somewhat similar trajectory, Ufommamut is pushing into the emptiness of space while Fangs of the Molossus seem to be orbiting comfortably within the stratosphere—an admirable feat considering this is the band’s debut. “Cult of the Witch Goddess,” the album’s second track, comes the closest to Ufomammut’s brand of psychedelic doom due to its low-end rumble, but also finds Fangs of the Molossus perfectly balancing monolithic riffs with pedal-hopping noise and atmospherics. “Cult of the Witch Goddess” finds the band igniting the afterburners and accelerating into the realm of space rock. Amidst the maelstrom of whirling noise and swelling rocket jets sound bites from Mario Bava’s brilliant Black Sunday satisfyingly recounts the death sentencing of condemned witch Princess Asa Vajda.

Though the bulk of the band’s debut is punctuated by heavy riffs, seismic low-end, and space rock tendencies, Fangs of the Molossus reveal a deft hand at crafting a varied, moody instrumental with “O Fera Flagella.” At over six minutes in length the track establishes itself as more than just an atmospheric diversion or as a build-up to album-closer “Dead King Rise.” Ambient sounds, acoustic guitar, and bongos effortless coalesce into a melancholy tapestry of sound that is accented with violin, organ, and ethereal noise. While “O Fera Flagella” is easily the most varied track of the album and finds the band delving into “softer” territory it reveals a willingness to experiment and explore—qualities that hopefully will be exploited on their next release.

Vocally, Fangs of the Molossus continue to distance themselves from many of their Italian contemporaries and, again, share similarities with countrymen Ufomammut. The vocals of Acid King Khanjia, who has since departed the band, are distant, often distorted, and laden with effects—a sharp contrast to the clean, unaltered vocals of many traditional doom acts hailing from the region. One possible point of contention concerning the vocals could befall the vocal delivery found on the stoner-groove of “I Drink Your Blood.” While the song boasts a guest appearance from Ain Soph Aour of Italian black metal outfit Necromass the vocal cadence bears a more than striking similarity to Al Cisneros’ delivery on Sleep’s “Dragonaut.” If this is the biggest criticism that can be levelled against this release then Fangs of the Molossus are obviously doing something right.

Fangs of the Molossus is a solid debut that has many things working in its favor. While listening to the five tracks of the album it is near impossible to ignore some of the band’s influences such as Saint Vitus or Electric Wizard—perhaps two of the easiest points of reference to make other than the aforementioned Ufomammut. Though the influences are discernible it would be a grave discredit to the band to call them a clone of any one band or to portray them as unoriginal. In fact, it is the “uncharacteristic” influences that win the day, particularly the minimalistic, repetitive psychedelia of Loop’s A Gilded Eternity and Spacemen 3’s Sound of Confusion lurking just beneath the surface.

(Originally published at Heathen Harvest Periodical, edited by Sage Weatherford)


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